I'm used to him losing - he enters a grand slam tournament and I don't expect him to win, because the effort it'd take to defeat Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic consecutively seemed too much for him. His wear and tear, though not so severe that it's causing him to lose in the first week of slams, reveal themselves in moments of high tension and intensity - the clutch serve that used to bail him out of tight spots suddenly disappears, and he loses his focus and then the match when he unexpectedly loses from a winning position and can't find his way back.
He's been winning non-Slam events, for sure: Paris Masters last year for the first time in his career, another World Tour Finals title, two masters events this year... I don't underrate these non-Slam titles. Every victory makes me happy, no matter where he emerges victorious.
But I'd be lying if I said that those victories felt as good as a grand slam one; they didn't. And I know this for a fact even more now, when I'm sitting here typing this entry at 1.57 a.m. when I have to get up for work in a few hours' time, trying to comprehend the enormity of what I just witnessed, and feeling, for the first time in months, a tentative hopefulness, a slowly-spreading positivity through me.
He wins Wimbledon at age 30 - wins his 7th Wimbledon title, 17th grand slam, and gets back his World #1 ranking. In his post-match on-court interview he said that he never stopped believing despite the various setbacks he's had. He never stopped believing, and neither did I; I'd watch every match of his until he stops playing for good, and when that moment comes tennis will never be the same for me again. He's the reason I watch, play and love this sport. He embodies so many qualities that I admire, some of which I wish I had: positivity, determination, hard work; he doesn't give up, be it when he's in the midst of losing a match or when he's living with a streak of bad results; and that incredible self-belief, the confidence, the positive attitude that got him where he is today.
This victory feels so unreal. I never expected to be talking about, writing about, gushing over, and spamming my Facebook timeline with another Federer grand slam victory again. He doesn't play at his absolute best anymore; JesusFed appears in patches every now and then. When he lost the first set I thought I was in for a heartbreak but he held on so bravely, didn't lose the plot when he couldn't convert those break points midway through the second set, saved the break points that he faced so brilliantly, and when he finally had a set point, he took matters into his own hands and went after it. Despite making so many horrendous errors off the forehand side, he summoned his best tennis when it mattered the most - set point in the second set, that long deuce game on Murray's serve in the third that he finally won after 20 minutes, that beautiful, beautiful backhand cross-court pass in the fourth on break point. What's most amazing about this victory is that he didn't need to play at his best to win; he just needed to be near that level when it mattered most.
His aggressive tennis is such a joy to watch. Speaking as objectively as I can, the tennis in this match is just top notch and way better than the semi-final against Djokovic. Both players used all parts of the court and more points were decided by winners rather than errors. Murray was absolutely on fire for nearly two sets but Roger was just too much for him to handle in the end.
My heart went out to Murray at the end when he struggled to speak through his tears after the match. If it had been anyone else in the final but Roger, I would've wanted him to win - and he probably would have. I haven't seen such aggressive tennis from him and he would have deserved the title if he'd won. It would've been a great story too if he'd won - Britain would've ended its 70+ year drought of no grand slam titles since Fred Perry in 1936 and Murray would've defeated one of the greatest players to have ever played the sport to win his first Wimbledon title.
But it wasn't to be. Roger was just more experienced, stronger mentally, and too good. Just goes to show what you can achieve when you believe, truly believe, in yourself.
Amazing, Roger. So absolutely amazing.